Review: Rodeo Queen by T J Kline

May Contain Spoilers


I have a love-hate relationship with Rodeo Queen.  It is, in fact, similar to the tumultuous relationship between the protagonists.  While I loved Sydney, I had a few problems with Scott.  I didn’t think he was very heroic.  Instead, I thought that he acted like a douche most of the time.  It is really hard to get behind a couple when you think that one of them needs a serious attitude adjustment, like maybe a horse kick to the head.  Scott’s redemption was too long in coming, and there was so many times I wanted to strangle him.  So many times!

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Review: A Candence Creek Christmas by Donna Alward


A Cadence Creek Christmas (Cadence Creek Cowboys)

May Contain Spoilers


I really enjoy Donna Alward’s Harlequin Romances, so I was looking forward to reading A Cadence Creek Christmas.  I love cowboys and small town romances, and most of Alward’s books have both.  This is a winning combination for me, probably because, like most people crammed into a metro area, there is too much traffic, too much rushing around, and too much stress.  Small town romances leave me feeling a little more relaxed, and I wonder if I would actually be able to live in a small town.  I hate shopping, especially lately, and Amazon delivers everywhere, so as long as a cable modem was available, I think I’d get on famously.  And cowboys? I just can’t resist a cowboy story.  These guys actually ride horses and like doing it!  My guy has been to the barn one time, and that’s when I was dropping something off – he wouldn’t even come look at my horses!  Though as long as he doesn’t complain that I’m there so often, I guess I can’t complain too much about that…

Taylor Shepard is in Cadence Creek, organizing her brother’s wedding to Avery (the protagonists from Little Cowgirl on His Doorstep).  She’s also going to stay in Cadence Creek over the Christmas holidays to decompress.  The owner of successful event planning company, she’s been run ragged by her wealthy clients and their outrageous requests.  While the money is good, she isn’t finding much satisfaction from her work, especially after meeting Rhys, the somber cowboy who is a friend of Callum’s and a member of the wedding party.  As Taylor spends more time with Rhys and gets to know him better, she can no longer hide her attraction to him.  She doesn’t want to get involved with him, though, because she’ll be leaving town soon and heading back to her life in the big city.

A Cadence Creek Christmas is a sweet read about two people searching for the happiness that’s lacking in their lives.  Neither Taylor nor Rhys is miserable, but they both feel that something is lacking and keeping them from finding true happiness.  Rhys has moved back to town after losing his own business, and now he’s wary about small businesses and small business owners.  He feels that he let a lot of people down when he was forced to close up shop, and he never wants to feel like that again.  Now he’s working a steady job for a steady paycheck, and he’s content with that.  He’s also helping his mother run the local diner, and though he’s a silent partner, he doesn’t want anyone to know about his involvement.  His  father was a terrible businessman, and Rhys doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps anymore than he already has.  He is now completely risk adverse, and when Taylor blows into town with the winter cold, he knows he’s in trouble.  Taylor is trouble with a capital T!

Taylor can’t understand why a man as smart and capable as Rhys is content working for others.  He could easily be his own boss, instead of punching a clock.  Taylor’s family is filled with one success story after another, so she feels a lot of pressure to succeed as well.  There is no other option for her.  Her relationship with her father is strained because she feels that he looks down at her work.  Her brothers are both very successful, and they are the apple of her father’s eye.  She is struggling to gain his acceptance, and this need to strive to be the best all hinges around her father’s less than stellar opinion of her.  She just wants the same approval that he lavishes on her brothers, but she despairs that she will never receive it.

Because Taylor is so driven, and also so outspoken, she and Rhys hit it off at first as well as oil and water.  There is no middle ground for them, but because they are so different, they aren’t willing to look for any, either.  As she gets to know him, Taylor begins to see his strengths; his loyalty, his truthfulness, his steadiness.  This is what I loved about this book – even though Rhys and Taylor are so very different, they both begin to see the other as the anchor that’s been missing from their lives.  They both need a rock to lean on, to be what the other needs.  They are a natural fit; it just takes them a long time to figure it out.  I was worried that I wouldn’t like the resolution to their greatest conflict, but I needn’t have.  Everything works out neatly, and neither character is forced to change who they are to make the other happy.  Rhys can continue to be the calming influence that Taylor needs, while she is free to hustle for her business, but in a new, more meaningful way for her.  Perfect!

A Cadence Creek Christmas will fill your need for a sweet holiday romance.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author – Thank you!

From Amazon:

It’s Christmas in Donna Alward’s Cadence Creek…

Taylor Shepard has come to Cadence Creek to organize her brother’s Christmas wedding. Organizing such a special event might be a little bit stressful—but she can’t deny she’s swept away by the town’s holiday charm…and by brooding rancher Rhys Bullock.

Loner Rhys has been burned far too many times in the past. He’s sure he has city girl Taylor all figured out—she’ll be hightailing it straight back to the city in a few days! But as the snow starts to fall, Rhys and Taylor embark on a tentative winter romance. Could Taylor be the Christmas present Rhys never even knew he wanted?

Interview with Colleen Thompson, Author of The Colton Heir

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Colleen, welcome to the Manga Maniac Café! Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Colleen Thompson] A Texas-dwelling, book-obsessed animal lover thrilled to be writing novels of romantic suspense and intrigue.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Colton Heir?

[Colleen Thompson] When Dead River Ranch’s large animal whisperer Dylan Frick learns he may be the missing Colton heir, he’s thrown into a tailspin. Unable to accept that his murdered mother could have been involved in a kidnapping, he is obsessed with disproving the theory—and blown completely off course by his attraction to the mysterious new maid, a gorgeous showstopper with deadly secrets of her own.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Colleen Thompson] As part of an overarching continuity series, The Coltons of Wyoming, The Colton Heir came to me with a set of characters and plot points I needed to cover. The challenge of it—and the fun—was in embellishing these characters, making them larger-than-life but still relatable, and in twisting the story in surprising and creative ways.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Dylan?

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Interview with Elizabeth Otto, Author of Tempting the Cowboy

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Elizabeth!  Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Elizabeth Otto] Introverted country girl with a quirky sense of humor and a deep love of animals, my children, football and dark chocolate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Tempting the Cowboy?

[Elizabeth Otto] TEMPTING THE COWBOY is really a story of making a major life change and taking all the chances and risks that come with something that big. The heroine, Rylan, isn’t looking for anything beyond hard work to take her mind off her personal pain, but when she allows herself to really see this new life she’s started, so many possibilities crop up. The hero, Cole, takes a big chance in putting his heart, and his family, on the line for love. I think anyone who has made a drastic life change, or even daydreamed about it, will be able to relate to the basic fears of letting go, finding acceptance and opening your heart to new things, which both characters face.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Elizabeth Otto] One day while working a slow 911 shift (I’m an emergency medical technician in my professional life), I had a random thought of what would I do if I got off a Greyhound bus in the wrong town—the middle of nowhere? What would I do? Why was I on that bus in the first place and where was I heading? My brain took these thoughts and ran with it, and when it came down to plotting the story, Montana was a natural setting. I have a deep appreciation for female police officers and how they tackle a “man’s” job. Rylan’s character developed around her past a cop, and the one, excruciating thing that would make a woman that tough and strong, basically run away from everything she knows. Because cowboys have a special place in my heart, Cole’s occupation was a no-brainer. Everything else just developed from there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Rylan?

[Elizabeth Otto] Independent, loyal, vulnerable.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Cole had a theme song, what would it be?

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Interview with Barbara Dunlop, Author of A Cowboy’s Temptation


Please welcome USA TODAY bestselling author Barbara Dunlop to the virtual offices this morning! Barbara is celebrating the release of A Cowboy’s Temptation.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Barbara Dunlop] I write contemporary romance, most of it with a comedic slant.  I live in northern Canada.  And, though I write 3 – 4 books a year, I still have a day job that I enjoy very much.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about A Cowboy’s Temptation?

[Barbara Dunlop] A Cowboy’s Temptation is the fifth book in a six book series for Harlequin Desire titled Colorado Cattle Barons.  The series centers around two families with deep roots in Colorado ranching country.  In A Cowboy’s Temptation, rancher and current Mayor of Lyndon City, Seth Jacobs runs afoul of inn owner Darby Carroll over the extension of a railway into town.  They battle for the hearts and minds of the townspeople, while fighting a growing attraction to each other that culminates in a secret affair.  Cowboys are some of my favorite heroes, rugged, sexy, principled, so I’ve really enjoyed the writing I’ve done in this series.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Barbara Dunlop] It’s hard to go wrong with cowboys. And they seem to work extraordinarily well in the Desire line.  I also have an affinity for writing sibling relationships, especially brothers.  I love the way people who have known others their entire lives can manage push each other’s buttons.  I started Colorado Cattle Barons with two brothers, fraternal twins, actually—Caleb and Reed Terrell.  They’d been estranged since they were eighteen when their mother died.  Both blamed their hard-nosed father for her illness and death.  Caleb chose to leave the ranch, while Reed chose to stay and fight for his mother’s heritage.  In the first story, Caleb returns to the ranch to confront his twin brother and falls in love with Mandy Jacobs, bringing the Jacobs family into the series.  After that, there were many siblings, secret siblings, cousins and friends to choose from to carry the series forward.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Seth?

[Barbara Dunlop] He’s a cowboy, so rugged, sexy, principled.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Darby had a theme song, what would it be?

[Barbara Dunlop] Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Seth is never without.

[Barbara Dunlop] Seth is never without the multi-tool/knife on his belt.  There are a million things a cowboy can fix with that.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find on Darby’s bathroom?

[Barbara Dunlop] You won’t find a lot of makeup in Darby’s bathroom, or perfume, or fancy hair products.  She’s a  down to earth woman.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Seth’s greatest regret?

[Barbara Dunlop] Seth wishes he could have stayed on the ranch instead of running for Mayor.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Barbara Dunlop] The early, incredibly creative romance novelists like Sandra Brown, Iris Johansen and Kathleen Woodiwiss.  I also greatly admire work by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa Kleypas and Aline Adams.  It’s a joy to read their stories.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Barbara Dunlop] A computer, a clear head and quiet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You are so prolific! What’s your secret to keeping your stories so fresh?

[Barbara Dunlop] Ironically, I think the more you write the better you get at it.  There are thousands of stories out there, and thousands of ways to approach them.  When you stay in practice, you have the tools you need to take on the next project.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What has changed the most in publishing since you sold your first manuscript?

[Barbara Dunlop] When I published my first book in 2000, there were limited avenues for writers if they wanted to put their work in front of readers.  That’s all changed today.  There are many channels for publication, and there are authors succeeding in virtually all of them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on A Cowboy’s Temptation?

[Barbara Dunlop] Although I love my day job, it does take up quite a lot of time.  I’m constantly balancing obligations and focusing on time management. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Barbara Dunlop] Most recently, I loved Lisa Kleypas’s trilogy: Sugar Daddy, Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Barbara Dunlop] My first book was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss.  I don’t think I’ve looked back since.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Barbara Dunlop] If I’m not working, I’m usually writing.  Though my husband and I do try for movie night on Fridays.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Barbara Dunlop ] It’s easy to contact me through my web site

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

Purchase link

About the book:

In this Colorado Cattle Barons novel by USA TODAY bestselling author Barbara Dunlop, a cowboy seduces the enemy 

Mayor Seth Jacobs has plans, and he won’t let do-gooder Darby Carroll ruin them. Her need for peace and quiet is standing in the way of a crucial railroad project. Now he must put his cowboy charms to good use and persuade Darby to see things his way. But seduction is a two-way street, and Seth soon realizes he underestimated his opponent. Now that he’s caught in his own trap, his desire for this woman could be his downfall….

About the author:

USA Today bestselling author Barbara Dunlop sold her first book to Harlequin in 2000.  Since then, she has sold more than 35 novels.  She has won a number of writing awards and is two-time RITA award finalist.  Married to her high school sweetheart, they live on a hobby ranch in Canada’s north amidst ruggedly beautiful mountains, where bears wander by their log house, and moose and deer graze in the fields.